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Community ties

New library an example of Princeton's commitment to local community

Princeton NJ -- Just before the Princeton Public Library opened this spring, its director sent a letter to President Tilghman thanking her for the University’s contributions to the new $18 million facility.

“In short, we couldn’t have done it without you,” she wrote.

The University takes its responsibility to the local community seriously. Providing support for the library — through financial resources and other means — is just one example of how the University contributes to the overall health and vitality of its hometown.

“We’re committed to enhancing the quality of life in our host community,” said Pam Hersh, director of community and state affairs. “The library project is important because of its significant role in downtown redevelopment.”

She noted that, in addition to paying property taxes and making unrestricted contributions to local community government (see “By the numbers” on page 2), the University annually provides support for nonprofit organizations like the library. According to Hersh, some 2,300 University faculty, staff and students hold public library cards and many have participated, along with alumni, in the enrichment and community service outreach activities sponsored by the library.

The new library was built on the corner of Witherspoon and Wiggins streets on the site of an outdated facility that was demolished in 2002. The University contributed monetary donations that totaled $500,000 to the library for the building’s construction and another $150,000 to Princeton Borough for furnishing the outdoor square bordered by the library and a mixed-use building under construction.

In her letter earlier this year, library director Leslie Burger also cited the other contributions made by the University: “Princeton University has been exceedingly generous in offering us the expertise of its staff and technological resources that have enabled us to move far beyond the reach of most public libraries.”

She mentioned Robert Durkee, vice president and secretary of the University, who served on the library’s newly expanded foundation board, and Hersh, who pitches in on everything from promoting the library’s programs to helping with benefits.

Burger also praised the efforts of several members of the Office of Information Technology staff, including Anthony Scaturro and Mary Ng, who assisted in planning for the new technology at the library. Several other OIT staff members provided assistance in establishing Internet access to the new library through the University’s server.

In addition, Burger recognized University Librarian Karin Trainer and Associate University Librarian for Administrative Services Dottie Pearson for the experience they shared in renovating and constructing facilities; and Susan Taylor, director of the University Art Museum, for her contributions as a member of the Library Art Committee in selecting works for the new building.

“The entire community built this new library but, without Princeton University’s major gifts and ongoing collaboration, it would not have been possible,” Burger concluded.